Once upon a time, there was a little basketball scout named Gold E. Locks. Mr. Locks knew basketball and he had always been able to predict which teams were successful based on his theory that balanced basketball always gets the job done. Well, for one weekend, Gold was assinged to scout three NBA teams: the Boston Celtics, the Oklahoma City Thunder, and the Indiana Pacers. He decided to assess a few areas on each team and try to figure out which team was likely to have the most success.
Gold decided to visit each team in their home city to watch them in their respective practice sessions. He stayed in Boston for a night and made the personal decison that, “This city is far too busy and populated. Although the baked beans are great, I could never live here.”
After Boston, he flew over to Oklahoma City. OKC wasn’t Mr. Locks’ cup of tea either. “This city is far too dull. I can’t believe that when I asked the hotel concierge for night-life ideas she simply had the horse and buggy take me to the local IHOP. No way I could live here.”
Gold next spent a weekend in Indianapolis. He felt at home. “You know, this city is just right. Not too crowded, not too dull. I could really see myself raising a family here.”
I’m not quite sure how Gold’s living preferences made it into this article, but more importantly, I was able to get a copy of the notes he took from his scouting report. Since Mr. Locks is such a great basketball mind, I thought that I might share a few of the points he made regarding three teams that Pacers fans have recently become familiar with.
Celtics: “This team is far too old. A few of their players seem too elderly to even run the fast break. This is supposed to be a basketball team, not a retirement home.”
Thunder: “This team is far too young. Young teams can make poor decisons late in games. That James Harden guy might fool some people with his beard, but apparently he is only 22 years old. This is supposed to be a basketball team, not a daycare center.”
Pacers: “This team’s age is just right. Most of its core is pretty young, but the roster has some great veterans like David West and Danny Granger. Age shoudn’t be a problem for them.”
Celtics: “This Kevin Garnett guy is far too mean. He’s got a lot of intensity, but I think he takes it too far. He kept screaming incoherent things at practice, and he made Brandon Bass cry four times. I really don’t think this sort of thing helps the team.”
Thunder: “Kevin Durant is a great kid. I think he might be a little too nice though. He could use a little bit more intensity. He wore a Dora the Explorer backpack to practice. Plus, he kept saying, ‘Keep your heads up, guys. Win or lose, when we get back to OKC, IHOP’s on me.'”
Pacers: “Danny Granger still has some room to grow as a player, but I think his personality is just right. He works hard and encourages his teammates, but also has a little tough-guy streek. And he was all business when it came to the most important parts of practice.”
Point Guard’s Shooting
Celtics: “Rajon Rondo definitely doesn’t shoot enough. He seems to have no confidence in his jump shot or his free throws. Teams can play five feet off of him in the fourth quarter because they know he won’t shoot the three. His fear of missing free throws might also effect his willingness to drive to the basket. Plus, I don’t know how he is going to get any better with Kevin Garnett screaming at him while he practices.”
Thunder: “Russell Westbrook shoots far too much. He has a great shot, and he’s a freak athlete, but sometimes he seems to forget that it’s not against the rules to pass the ball. It shouldn’t be too hard to defend Kevin Durant in the fourth quarter if Westbrook refuses to pass him the ball.”
Pacers: “You know, I’m not sure that Darren Collinson is nearly as talented as the other two teams’ point guards, but he might have the best shot selection. He has a better three-point shot than both of them and he can make a pull-up jumper off of a screen. He also doesn’t force up too many shots when there is a better option.”
Xs & Os
Celtics: “This team is far too reliant on perfect execution. Age prevents most of their best players from creating anything off of the isolation. They run great plays and set great picks that often lead to open three-point shots for Ray Allen, but the problem is that if the play isn’t executed perfectly then they aren’t very likely to get any points out of the possession.”
Thunder: “To be honest, this team doesn’t really run a lot of plays. They run your basic pick and rolls, but they also just rely on the one-on-one skills of their best players. They seem to be able to get away with it for the most part because Durant and Westbrook (and sometimes Harden) are so good, but when the defense is really locking down you need to be able to draw up some plays to create a few easy buckets.”
Pacers: “The Pacers’ play-running skills are just right. They run a number of simple plays that the team executes well. They spread the scoring around to a number of different players. When plays break down they have a couple of scorers who can make something out of nothing late in the shot clock.”
So there you have it. Gold E. Locks is usually pretty spot on with his game analysis. The Thunder and the Celtics are going to get a lot of hype going into the playoffs. But sometimes it can hurt to be too far in one direction for certain aspects of basketball.
With a just a handful of games left to polish their execution, it’s starting to seem like the Pacers are “just right.”